AALS 2018 Symposium – Why Intellectual Diversity Matters (and What Is To Be Done)

January 6th, 2018

During the 2018 Annual Meeting, the AALS sponsored a two-part symposium on intellectual diversity. This was an important discussion, which I hope spurs some action in the AALS, and the legal academy more broadly.

Panel 1 – Why Intellectual Diversity Matters?

This panel will explore the reasons why there are so few conservative and libertarian law professors and how this situation harms law teaching and scholarship. Panelists will discuss studies finding that political prejudice is potentially stronger than racial prejudice and perceptions on both the left and the right that academia is welcoming to those on the left and unfriendly to those on the right; the effects on law students when they learn only one side of the debate over major issues and later confront an ideologically diverse judiciary; and the echo-chamber effect on legal scholars when collegial discourse is one-sided and how this has caused legal scholarship to miss some important judicial decisions.

Moderator: Randy E. Barnett, Georgetown University Law Center
Speaker: James Lindgren, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
Speaker: Josh Blackman, South Texas College of Law Houston
Speaker: Laura K. Donohue, Georgetown University Law Center
Speaker: Carissa Byrne Hessick, University of North Carolina School of Law
Speaker: Robert J. MacCoun, Stanford Law School

Panel 2 – What is to be done?

This panel will discuss what can be done to improve intellectual diversity on law faculties, including how to create a climate that respects and welcomes intellectual diversity; the efforts of organizations like Heterodox Academy to criticize and to change the status quo; and the possibility of external intervention to improve faculty intellectual diversity.

Moderator: G. Marcus Cole, Stanford Law School
Speaker: George W. Dent, Jr., Case Western Reserve University School of Law
Speaker: Gail Heriot, University of San Diego School of Law
Speaker: Daniel B. Rodriguez, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law
Speaker: Steve Sanders, Indiana University Maurer School of Law
Speaker: Kellye Y. Testy, Law School Admission Council